When Pittsburgh's movers and shakers need something one-of-a-kind to wear to a fancy gala or wedding, they give designer Diana Misetic a call.
But the phone is ringing less these days with custom clothing requests now that many events have been canceled because of COVID-19. Rather than putting away her sewing machine, she's switched to making masks.
This spring, Misetic purchased a 6,000-square-foot warehouse in McKees Rocks to be the home for East Eight Co., her new business venture devoted to handmade face masks and other personal protective equipment. The name is a nod to its East Coast location and the building's number.
The public can browse and buy the masks and filters online at easteightco.com. Masks are priced at $15 each and a six-pack of filters is $5.
"I wanted to do something different, something we need in this moment," Misetic says. "It's refreshing."
It's also safer than working in a small studio space taking measurements and holding fittings with her custom clothing clients, a process that doesn't allow for social distancing. She's keeping her Little Black Dress studio space on Ivy Street in Shadyside, she says, but halting custom work. In the meantime, she's working on a ready-to-wear line of simple dresses and sporty looks.
All masks will be made in the warehouse, where space is plentiful.
"I can keep workers and myself safe from each other," she says, noting that there's about 8 feet between each sewing machine. "We all wear masks and are very careful about cleaning."
Her couture work has a lot in common with making fabric face masks.
"I want something to fit. That's good technique in couture that I applied to this mask."